Like a scene from a sci-fi movie, the little robot glides underneath floorboards spraying as he goes. But this isn’t a movie, this is how North West growth and regeneration group, Torus, are investing £129,000 to help 94 homes to reduce heat loss, save 15 tonnes of carbon emissions and lower fuel bills, by using new innovative technology to install underfloor insulation.
The robots, or Q-bots, are remotely operated robots that spray foam insulation to the underside of suspended timber floors, reducing heat lost through the floor and acting as a barrier to cold air draughts. The robot enters the underfloor cavity via an access hatch or air vent, removing the need to uplift flooring, meaning that it is quicker with considerably less mess and disruption for the resident, compared to traditional floor insulation.
The Q-bot project is one of five RetroFIT projects from Torus, which will see the group investing £3.2 million into 337 of their existing homes, helping to reduce their carbon emissions. Supporting the Liverpool City Region (LCR) goal to become a zero-carbon city region by 2040, the projects will also benefit tenants by improving energy efficiency, reducing fuel bills and making their homes warmer. Other projects include External Wall Insulation (EWI) on three sites in North Liverpool and an entire innovative electric heating retrofit project to Portland Gardens independent living scheme, near to the city centre.
The projects are part of the RetroFIT for the Future project, led by Sefton Council, which has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to retrospectively install low carbon solutions to homes to ensure they are future proof.
Torus Assets Project Manager, David Kelly, tells us more about the Q-bots and how it will benefit tenants and the environment;
“We are always looking for new and innovative solutions to old problems and the Q-bot was perfect to allow us to improve insulation on at least 100 homes across Liverpool.
“By using the innovative Q-bot, we don’t have to lift the floors, which makes installation quicker to do with little disruption to the tenant which, during a pandemic, is even more important.
“The Q-bot project is part of our ongoing commitment to invest in our existing homes. These improvements will not only help the environment by reducing carbon emissions, it will also help our tenants save money on their fuel bills be reducing costs and be able to enjoy warm, comfortable homes.
“It is expected that properties that have the insulation installed will see a reduction in heating bills, typically saving households £150 a year and experience a 32% reduction in draughts, making homes feel warmer and more comfortable.
“Plus, it will reduce carbon emissions, saving 15 tonnes of CO2 per year across the project.
“These benefits mean an increase in the overall SAP rating for the property, which is how you can compare energy performance of different homes. The higher the SAP rating, the lower the fuel costs and the lower the associated emissions of carbon dioxide.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for tenants to make their homes warmer and more insulated without the usual mess. The work is really quick and we would really encourage those who fit the criteria take up the offer and we would like to assure everyone that the work is done fully Covid-19 secure.”
As the region’s largest provider of affordable homes, Torus understands many of their tenants are experiencing real hardship because of the pandemic. Maximising income by reducing fuel poverty is a priority for Torus and who are actively looking at a range of ways to help.
Established by the European Union, ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
The success and impact of the Q-bot and other RetroFIT projects will be used to shape future retrofitting projects and to support future adoption of innovative products into mainstream housing management programmes.